Passing The Baton: Part II

By Andrew J. Birol, President, Birol Growth Consulting

Having worked with more than fifty client businesses led by parent/children owners, I regularly assist leadership in changing hands. Coaching family succession and transition is as thrilling as watching an Olympic relay race. When one generation successfully hands off to the next, it is wonderful to see the business accelerate and gain momentum. But just as horrifying as watching a relay team drop the baton and fall half a lap behind is seeing a great business blow a leadership handoff. Over the next three newsletters, I will explore the three major phases of the relay race every successful business must run. Here's a preview:

Phase 1: Approaching the handoff. The incumbent leader must finish strong. The baton should stay firmly in his grasp until he finds his true successor, not just a look-a-like in an adjacent lane. The upcoming leader bides his time until the right moment when he steps into his father's lane and prepares to start running the company.

Phase 2: The hand off. Requiring complete trust and total coordination, the actual handoff in any relay race is the culmination of months of practice; taking over the leadership of a business is no different. In each case, the baton must change hands flawlessly and at full speed in the midst of multiple distractions, including the clamor of spectators. When perfectly performed, the outgoing runner first sprints to full power and only then outstretches his hand, blindly expecting the baton.

Phase3: Leaving the fly zone. Upon grasping the baton, the lead runner forges ahead to set his own pace towards a new record. The trail runner quietly and unobtrusively steps off the track after turning control over to new hands with fresher legs. For the business leader successfully passing the baton, his role going forward is one of cheerleader and spectator but no longer as an active runner.

Over the next three issues, each phase of the business ownership relay race will be explored. Stay tuned!

Articles by Birol Growth Consulting are © copyrighted and all rights are reserved. However, articles may be reprinted with prior written consent if attribution is included as follows:

© Copyrighted by Andrew J. Birol, President of Birol Growth Consulting, who helps owners grow their businesses by growing their Best and Highest Use ®. Andy can be reached at (412)-973-2080 , by email at, or on the web at

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